The Other Russell Crowe Exorcist Movie

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Crowe plays Anthony Miller, an actor who has gone through hell thanks to his addiction to drugs and alcohol. His wife is dead, and his past transgressions have estranged him from his teenage daughter Lee (Ryan Simpkins). And we instantly know they’re estranged because she calls him “Tony.” (“My name’s not Tony,” he mumbles. “It’s Dad.”) After a great opening scene in which an actor dies on a set that looks like a gigantic dollhouse, Anthony is offered the dead actor’s role in “The Georgetown Project,” which is clearly a remake of “The Exorcist” (the movie stops just short of fully admitting this but comes as close as it possibly can without having to pay for the rights). Anthony will play one of the priests sent to save the soul of a possessed girl, played by Chloe Bailey in the movie within the movie. 

So far, so good. Anthony gets to the set, dons his priestly attire, and proceeds to bomb. His performance is clumsy, and he quickly draws the ire of the film’s director, played by Adam Goldberg. The director then tries to push Anthony by forcing the actor to remember his past traumas. “You were an altar boy, right?” he asks, and then not-so-subtly hints at sexual molestation at the hands of priests. Later, he forces Anthony to remember abandoning his dying wife. “You are unredeemable,” he hisses. These are the most interesting moments of the film, as they’re character-based scenes about an actor being forced to atone for his sins via his new role as a priest. A better movie would flesh this out more, but “The Exorcism” starts going down a generic horror movie path. 

Soon, bodies are contorting, foul language is being hurled, and digitally-enhanced demon voices come out of Crowe’s mouth. Is Anthony really possessed, or is he reverting to his old addictions? We see him chugging bottles of hard booze and struggling with sleep, frightening Lee in the process. A better movie would draw this out and keep us guessing, but “The Exorcism” has no time for subtlety. 

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